Aish Kodesh 3/19/09 Vayakhel Pekudei - Rabbi Henoch Dov Hoffman
, Mt. Sinai
, Warsaw Ghetto
, Pascal lamb
, covenant of the halves
, solar calendar
, lunar calendar
, sun ceremony
March 19, 2009 Aish Kodesh Vayakehl Pekudei, Shabbos HaChodesh
This is the end of the year, not Rosh HaShanah. Purim is the highest of the holidays, the goal of the year. We are always looking for a new light from HaShem. A Jew is someone who can turn darkness into light. We can celebrate the integrity of the darkness, ohr chadash. The world is a very dark place.
There has been a volcano of anger of the A.I.G. bonuses. Rabbi Hoffman has been surprised at this, since he tries to take the events that happen as part of his dialogue with HaShem. Torah is not just relevance. He likes the lumpy parts of Gemora, especially the parts about theft, which relates to the theft in the business world which is being uncovered these days. He believes that Jews dominated international commerce for 1,000 years because of a system of credit and trust.
At a recent wedding the fathers made an agreement as to which of them would pay for what part of the wedding, and this was with a co-signer in case they were unable to pay. The ketuba is not very American because Americans do not like the idea of anticipating divorce. There is even a discussion about whether, if you find a ketuba, you can return it to the wife. It is not so simple; maybe not. Today one of the debates going on is whether the government can cancel a contract. Can we connect what is in the news with Torah? A light emanates. Jewish law anticipates the breaking down of trust and payments.
Khid Kadshu: a new light. The worst darkness is when trust breaks down in a family or society. When we give, we elevate. When a Jew buys a banana, he elevates it up or the transaction is not legitimate.
The first question G*d asks us after we die is did we give with faith.
Our period of slavery in Egypt is analogous to being an immature fetus. At Mount Sinai G*d gave us an embrace, but we were overwhelmed. If one person in a relationship is too passionate, the other person disappears.
At Purim, Moses and HaShem sit down at the table and say we have to disappear.
Because G*d and Moshe disappeared, we were able to get up on our own two feet and receive the Torah. How they disappeared: Moses took himself out of Parsha Ki Sisa, which is the only parsha in which he does not appear. Simultaneously HaShem took Himself out of the book of Esther. Moses removed himself to the Plains of Shittim and recused himself from several cases in the desert. After building the Mishkan every day for a week, he sat outside of the Mishkan when Aaron assumed his position as Kohane Godol. A good teacher plans his own obsolescence. The positive side is that we erase our egos; the negative side is our identities are taken away from us. The small aleph which appears in this parsha signifies Mosheâs humility.
Who else builds a palace and then steps aside? He turns that moment of darkness where he feels like an outsider into a moment of light. This is where G*d calls to him.
Unlike Yom Kippur, Purim has no restrictions. We can eat, get drunk.
KIS (pocket): How do we handle money?
KOS (anger): How do we handle anger?
KAS (glass): How do we handle booze?
These are the tests of a mature person.
The cycle of the year is a level of maturity coming around to Purim, which is not a childâs holiday. It takes maturity to wear a costume and play. People are afraid of looking childish. We try to discover the child within us who used to be filled with wonder at everything. We need to rediscover our love of learning, which was beat out of us by the education system.
Last week and this week are death and resurrection, which is seminal in the development of Xtianity. The Shabboses of the these four weeks deal with money, memory, death (so death wouldnât rule over us) and rebirth.
Walking around the block after the shiva week and simcha lead to a rebirth, always finding something new, finding HaShem in the dark side of the cycle.
Reb Bawruch: When we get up in the morning we acknowledge the death of sleep in four stages. We go to the bathroom to release toxins, wash hands to remove toxins, don tallis, don tefillin.
Death is necessary because it is a remedy for what went wrong in Gan Eden; without death, manâs ego would be insufferable. We have small deaths, like Shabbos. When we do the prayer of TACHANUN, asking for forgiveness, we are in danger of death. This is based on the story of Rabbi Yochanan, whose lifted eyebrow of disapproval hurt his friend, Rash Lakish, so badly that he caused his death.
The Aish Kodesh says he can be the moon in the Warsaw Ghetto and light up the night.
The basis of Pesach is 15 pages of Pesachim (Talmud tractate). Ohr means night; we look for chumatz on the night of the 14th of Nissan. We use a single wick candle to force us to get closer to all the nooks and crannies.
Purim is excess and it is filled with chumatz.
Pesach is strictures. Wine is also called chumatz.
The position of the sun that will occur on April 8 of this year at 6:02 a.m. is different from the regular 28 year cycle. It occurred at Creation and at the Exodus and will never occur again. (Reb Bawruch: this is ominous.)
Sacred Fire, page 309
A good question awakens interest.
The Torah provokes good questions by the things are placed in proximity to each other.
The word Commandment also means advice. The first two commandments were given in the first of the two parshot we are reading this week: the moon and the Pascal lamb. The Israelites are slaves, and these commandments are given to them to connect them to G*d.
The significance of sheep:
-Sheep appear first in the story of Cain and Abel. Abel was a shepherd and had more time to think and be spiritual than his farmer brother, Cain, who was a workaholic. Wool is Abel and Cain is linen, and, except for the clothing of the Kohane Godol, we do not mix wool and linen.
-At Sukkot the seven Ushpizim are called the Seven Shepherds.
-Shepherding is leadership. Moshe merited the Burning Bush because he took care of a small lamb.
-Shepherds were despised by the Egyptians.
-It was said that Jews went to the ovens like sheep to slaughter in the Holocaust. Because of this, in Israel there has been a deprecation of Yiddish and European culture.
The halachah is that we study Pesach for four weeks, not two weeks, before Pesach.
The word month and new are the same in Hebrew.
Page 310, top. Abraham was told in the covenant of the halves, which was a nightmare, that the Israelites would have 400 years of slavery. This encompassed all of Jewish suffering, connecting Egypt with the Holocaust. The Covenant of the Parts was the result of Abraham having doubts about having a son. In a midrash, G*d decided that slavery would end after 210 years instead of 400 because the cruelty of the Egyptians was excessive.
In this parsha a switch is made from the solar calendar of the non-Jewish world to the lunar calendar. Moshe S. says: the keeping of time has to do with freedom. Nissan is the month which marks the birth of the nation. Slaves do not control their time; their masters do. Being able to control their calendar marked the transition from slavery to freedom. When we declare Rosh Chodesh, the new month, we become partners with HaShem.
A child is born as a slave to his parents and has to mature. We were born in that womb of Egypt.
Faith manifests only when G*d disappears. The Israelites saw the hand of G*d, so of what use was their faith? We can use faith to fill the gap in our certainties. [TRF: we should not use our faith to block acknowledging our vulnerability in this world]
Burning the perfect PARA DUMA (Red heifer) is to help us understand that what we see with our physical eyes is not so real, but what we see with our faith eyes is real. The eye on the one dollar bill is the eye of the soul.
When man is joyful he feels certainty of faith. But when he is broken, he can experience faith and not know it. The Aish Kodesh is acknowledging the state people are in. [TRF: this may mean why we go on living when our hearts lie panting on the floor.]
Experiencing newness is learning the habits of joy (simcha).
The Aish Kodesh allows a person to be depressed and broken and also have faith. He uses the lungs to make the point. The person and heart cannot have to think about the functioning of the lungs and heart for the lungs and heart to function; it is too important. In the concentration camps the Musselmen could not live another day without faith. The light went out of their eyes. A lot of people decided to live until the new year began and then died on January 1. The most essential parts of ourselves have to function without our permission.
We become aware of faith only when we decide to exercise it.
Page 311 bottom: If Shabbos and Pesach yom tov fall at the same time, a man could not carry a knife to the Temple to schecht the Pascal lamb.
Outside the Temple we are not allowed to wear linen and wool together, nor can we schecht on Shabbos outside the Temple. There could be the peaceful juxtaposition of opposites at the Temple, which was the Place of Diligent Attention.
The common people remembered what Hillel forgot because of the innate prophesy which is instilled in us from our ancestors.
We can bring something into awareness by exercising it.
Hidur Hamitzvah: you spend one-third more effort to make something special. The mother, the father and HaShem contribute to the creation of a person. Two-thirds of us come from our parents; one-third is ours to control. This makes faith and desire to love and worship. THIS IS MY G*d AND I WILL BEAUTIFY HIM is from the Song of the Sea.
If we are under the influence of lethargy and feebleness, it does not mean we have no faith.
The worst result of the parlor tricks which Moshe used on Pharaoh is that they turned him into a god/man, a source of idol worship. Because of that, the magicians followed him out of Egypt. Miracles represent controlling and a quick fix instead of developing a relationship. Moshe gave up on miracles, but Jesus did not; he continued to fly, etc.
Why did the third miracle, the turning of the waters of the Nile into blood, convince Pharaoh?
If we are pious, we see piety in others. The miracle was meant to uplift the Israelites in their pain. The Aish Kodesh was talking about the Nazis not respecting anyone; they did not respect themselves. [TRF: In a painful experience this week, it helps to remember that everything is from G*d and it helps to try to find the lesson in it.]
Hope and faith can be taught.
The Aish Kodesh says that Moshe had joy despite his pain over the plight of the Jews. The Aish Kodesh was really talking about himself.
We can have revelation of HaShem in pain and in Simcha. This is new, relevant to the mystarim.
The outer chamber has Simcha.
The inner chamber has G*d weeping.
It is where the Torah is revealed.
Bawruch: Maybe joy and pain are the same thing.
Shabbos HaChodesh: where do I find strength to discover new Torah?
Page 315 bottom
Slaughtering the sheep was an act of civil disobedience, since sheet were deities in Egypt.
The Mystarim is a repair of Yaakov, who lost the Shechinah when he was depressed.
Getting up like a lion, a Jewish concept, is very different from the early bird catches the worm.
Rabbi Henoch Dov teaches in Denver, Colorado. You can contact him through his web page, www.RabbiHenochDov.com, or via email firstname.lastname@example.org.